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The Scandal of Our Age

National Security

Iran probably knew of U.S. covert involvement against its nuclear facilities, but now it knows that that the entire world also knows. There is no more plausible deniability on our part. The information about the nature of the cyber war is so detailed, the partnership with the Israelis rendered so complex, and the disclosures about technology and technique so explicit, that the Iranians will not only better defend themselves, but use these details to encourage and support even more terror against the United States. How ironic that Obama once called Guantanamo al-Qaeda’s “chief recruiting tool” only to keep it open, and instead give them a real recruiting tool in the disclosure of the inner workings of the war on terror.

Pakistan is a veritable enemy and Iran an explicit one. But now both will recite endlessly David Sanger’s catalog of our efforts to subvert them, and claim any new anti-American efforts on their part were simply justified tit-for-tat. Why would the Gulf states help us, when they come off as brutal supporters of the old doomed dictatorships? Europe and our allies no doubt knew all about predators and the cyber war, but their publics did not. Expect even more anti-Americanism, as our enemies decry targeted assassinations and efforts at subverting governments.

George W. Bush turned off the world by waterboarding three known and confessed terrorists -- with help from the American Left who publicized that fact hourly for eight years. Barack Obama, we now read, has not only personally selected several hundred suspected terrorists for airborne execution, but alternates between reading their terrorist biographies and theology as he picks who lives and who dies. I am sure Catholic theologians appreciate the fact that St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine bulked up the American president’s fortitude when he chose to press the kill button over Waziristan. Crude presidents watch Patton or wear flight suits under “Mission Accomplished” banners; sophisticated metrosexual wartime Presidents read theology. I am surprised only that we did not hear from leaks that Obama had read these didactic texts in the original Latin.

Is the world to be outraged that Russia sends war material to Syria or Iran arms to Hezbollah -- when it matter-of-factly now reads that almost all communications inside Pakistan are intercepted? Do we need to know that the U.S. warped medical vaccination programs to gain information about bin Laden -- right out of a scene from the film Man on Fire? I bet the Gates Foundation and other American philanthropic organizations will appreciate the doubt that will now be cast on their own vaccination efforts. In the world war of ideas, we accuse Iran of wanting to wipe out Israel and they now will accuse us of resorting even to manipulating vaccination programs for the sick and poor for our own national security.  Do we really need to know -- or rather does the world need to know -- that we sabotaged video cameras in Pakistan? Wait -- I err in the use of the past tense: we are still sabotaging video and photographic equipment in Pakistan.

We live in dangerous times, with a war in Afghanistan, a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, a duplicitous nuclear Pakistan, an estranged nuclear ally Israel, an Arab Spring gone haywire, a failed reset with Russia, and almost all of the above conniving over Syria. The work of National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, New York Times reporter David Sanger, and all their assorted subordinate reporters and Obama administration officials may well help to set off a conflagration unlike any in our time.